Welcome to the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Newsletter
Get up-to-date information about the latest efforts to save this critically endangered parrot unique to Western Australia
LONELY WESTERN GROUND PARROT AT PERTH ZOO NEEDS A MATE
photo credit A. Danks
Perth Zoo has been successful in getting this difficult to breed species to mate in captivity last year. However, with only one female Western Ground Parrot at the Zoo, it is pretty obvious that more birds are needed for a captive breeding project to succeed. The long-term goal is to release the captive-bred parrots to supplement the wild population which currently is thought to number less that 150 birds.
We have started to raise money to fund the capture of additional birds from the wild and need your support. To facilitate this we have set up a dedicated campaign page, click here to make a donation.
If you prefer to make a direct deposit or send a cheque, we will add your contribution to the campaign page. You will find more details on the last page of the newsletter.
Supporters also have the unique opportunity to purchase a guided tour of the Perth Zoo Western Ground Parrot facilities. The cost is $2,000. Yes, this doesn't come cheap, but this is a unique chance to see one of the world's rarest birds. It is also an opportunity for the corporate world to get involved in the recovery of Western Australia's rarest bird. Please contact us if you are interested in either sponsoring such a tour or participating yourself. A total of five places are available, one going to the lucky winner of the door prize at the Perth Zoo fund-raising screening of Secrets at Sunrise on 13 July.
All proceeds we receive from the screenings of Secrets at Sunrise will gotowards this campaign.
World Premiere "Secrets of Sunrise"
Three years in the making, the documentary about the race to save the Western Ground Parrot premiered on 31 May at a number of cinemas in country WA. It was sold out in both Albany and Esperance; additional screenings had to be made available to accommodate everyone.
photo credit: Riggs Australia
There have been numerous enquiries about screenings in other parts of Australia and are working on getting the film to audiences in the Eastern states. Secrets at Sunrise has been accepted at the Revelation Perth International Film Festival and will be shown at the Luna Leederville Cinema in July.
We have been invited to set up a display table at the Luna Cinema. Do we have any Perth members who would be prepared to help out? Also, is there a volunteer willing to slip into the Western Ground Parrot costume briefly before and after the screening? If yes, please get in touch with us. Your help will be greatly appreciated and you will receive a free ticket.
There will also be a special screening at Perth Zoo on 13 July where one of the lucky ticket holders has the chance to win a guided visit to the Western Ground Parrot aviaries at Perth Zoo. This screening will be part of a larger fund-raising event in support of our campaign to raise funds for the Western Ground Parrot captive breeding project at the Zoo. The event starts with a Meet and Greet at 6pm with the screening of the documentary to commence at 6:30pm. This will be followed by a Question & Answer session - Jennene Riggs (film-maker), Sarah Comer (Chair of the Recovery Team), Dr Allan Burbidge (Principal Research Scientist, Dept. of Parks& Wildlife) and Arthur Ferguson (Australian Fauna Supervisor, Perth Zoo) will be present to answer questions.
All proceeds from the sale of the tickets will go towards our campaign in support of the captive breeding project at Perth Zoo.
For more information about the documentary, future screening dates and where to buy your tickets, please head to the www.secretsatsunrise.com website.
DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND WILDLIFE AUTUMN 2017 UPDATE from South Coast Fauna Recovery Team by Deon Utber
Today I am writing the Parks and Wildlife report on behalf of our team as the majority of them are on well-earned leave or working away. I hold the position of Regional Leader Nature Conservation for the Parks and Wildlife South Coast Region and spend a fair portion of my time behind the computer wistfully thinking of our team out in the field. Our team consists of many dedicated and highly skilled staff who have a passion for not only the recovery of the western ground parrot but for nature conservation in general.
I can say unreservedly that I hold a huge amount of admiration, pride and respect for our team as they work tirelessly (though they do get tired with many early and late nights in the field 😊) for long periods away from family and friends with no complaint other than about the limited time and resources to do more. The dedicated people on our team over the past five or more years have included Lucy Clausen, Saul Cowen, Jeff Pinder, Alan Danks, Abby Berryman, Louisa Bell, Abby Thomas, Jon Pridham, Steve Butler and Emma Massenbauer (and there are many more than have contributed to the conservation effort over a longer period) who have been led and guided by our amazing and inspiring leaders in conservation Sarah Comer, Allan Burbidge and Dave Algar. The volunteers that join them in the field are very important to mention and their time and commitment is greatly appreciated.
Now as to what the team have been up to since the last newsletter, they, as usual, have been extremely busy. The autumn Western Ground Parrot survey in Cape Arid National Park and Nuytsland Nature Reserve as part of the South West Threatened Fauna Recovery Project (SWFRP, funded by the Australian Government) was completed with birds continuing to be heard in unburnt pockets of habitat after the 2015 fires and in areas to the east of the fires. These records are very encouraging and more records are likely as the team process more data from the automated recording units.
Another aspect of the SWTFRP has been conducting spring trials for the use of the cat specific Eradicat® baits in the Fitzgerald River and Stirling Range National Parks and the team have been collecting field data and remote sensing cameras which will analysed to contribute to the project report next year.
The team will be working on data analysis and report writing when back from leave but the future is currently unknown as we wait on the outcomes of another funding application that is required to continue the team and support implementing the key recovery action for the western ground parrot. Fingers and toes crossed.
SWTFRP Team and Volunteers (Photo: Sarah Comer, Deon Utber, Parks and Wildlife)
Western Ground Parrot search along Balladonia Track
by Dave Taylor (Team leader)
Despite near freezing morning and evening temperatures, 8 volunteers braved the elements to conduct a Western Ground Parrot (WGP) search on behalf of the Department of Parks and Wildlife in an area not previously surveyed. The survey was in a relatively remote area approximately 20 kilometers north east of the commencement of the Balladonia Track on Unallocated Crown Land and in Cape Arid National Park.
Even though the habitat looked very promising to be able to support Western Ground Parrots, no calls were heard. A total of 71 listening sessions were conducted over the period of the survey with some very interesting calls being heard but unfortunately none belonging to WGPs. The new automated recording units (SM4) were also deployed and it is hoped the data analysis of these units in due course may prove otherwise.
photo: John Tucker
Although mornings and evenings were cold, days were very pleasant with clear skies and little wind allowing members of the group time to explore and study some of the flora in the area. Some young and fit members walked and scrambled their way to the summit of Mt Ragged. This peak dominates the skyline as do other smaller peaks in the landscape.
Large flocks of Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo (one estimated to be at least 600 birds) were seen and heard in the area which is a promising sign for their continuing existence in this location. Many Brown Falcons were also noted. Other birds heard or sighted included butcherbirds, Grey Currawong, Southern Emu-wren, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Red Wattlebird and Spotted Pardalote to name a few.
My thanks go to the volunteers who unselfishly gave their time and effort to enable this survey to proceed.
In search of the Western Ground Parrot
by Chris Gunby (Volunteer)
It all started at the Porongorups Wine Festival in March. Until that moment I had no real knowledge of the Western Group Parrot. But thanks to the enthusiasm of Anne Bondin I parted with $10 and became a ‘friend’ – a relationship I have never had with a parrot. I received a newsletter and found myself volunteering for a 4WD excursion on the Balladonia Track. It sounded adventurous, journeying to areas where I have never been (where’s the Balladonia Track?), a chance to test out the car with others who know how to dig it out. And all we needed to do was to count parrots. Easy.....
Wrong.....Firstly, it’s not about seeing parrots, it about hearing them. And they have very unsocial hours, calling mainly an hour before sunrise, and an hour after. I am not a morning person. In my life time (of 56 years) the number of sunrises I have personally experienced could be counted on one hand. With a few digits spare. Getting up at 5am in near freezing conditions, with everything damp from dew, was a challenge. Going out at sunrise when there were so many mosquitoes you had difficulty hearing the birds was as bad. And after 6 days our total parrot bird count was nil.
But the experience was amazing. Dave Taylor our team leader was superb in organising camp, transport and the surveys. Everything ran well, thanks to a lot of preplanning by Dave. For novice ‘twitchers’ like me we had John Tucker to educate us, and we all became better naturalists and campers for the education we got from both Dave and John.
The attitude and commitment from all the volunteers was amazing and humbling – to think that all this work is being undertaken by volunteers, freely giving of their time, knowledge and experience. And for such an important cause. Most daylight hours were free to roam, and roam we did, exploring parts of the world new to me and others. We climbed up Mt Ragged, walked to nearby hills and visited wetland areas. It was fascinating, educational and fun.
Would I go again? Absolutely, if asked. I just wished the ground parrot would start singing around mid-day!
Volunteers: John, Gail, Peter, Jennifer, Chris, Tony, Dave and John Tucker who kindly provided the photo
UPDATE FROM PERTH ZOO by Arthur Ferguson
A total of seven mate feeding events were recorded between male Joy and female Fifi from the 6th to the 16th March however this did not progress to anything more serious. This is not surprising as it was very much outside of what is expected to be the typical breeding season.
Joy mate feeding Fifi on 2nd June
More recently, a single very brief mate feeding event was recorded on the morning of the 2nd June. Female Fifi approached the shared boundary and male Joy strutted over to her with wings held ajar and tailed fanned before offering the brief mate feed.
Joy and Fifi have been displaying the typical pre-breeding season behaviours that we have seen in previous years in the form of increased activity and excitement. We are continuing to track the birds’ condition and behaviour closely as the breeding season edges ever closer.
Perth Zoo's Horticulture team has recently purchased forty Coastal Honeymyrtle Melaleuca systena tube stock to support onsite propagation and expansion of important food plant supplies for the Western Ground Parrots. The tube stock have been potted on into larger pots and will be planted into a dedicated browse garden for Western Ground Parrots in future.
Perth Zoo Horticulturist Peter Archer tending to the Coastal Honeymyrtle Melaleuca systena
Zephyr eating sedge seeds
Close-up of Zephyr's food: Lepidosperma tetraquetrum
Sarah Comer and her team from the South Coast have commenced organising native food plant deliveries to the Zoo. This is a tremendous support in helping to keep the birds in top condition to encourage breeding. A species of Lepidosperma (Sword sedges) (Lepidosperma tetraquetrum) was one of the species recently provided and found to be highly favoured by the birds.
Note from the editor:
We have submitted a sponsorship request to Rex Regional Express asking them to help with the transport of the Western Ground Parrot food plants to Perth. Hopefully they will be able to find space for the less than 5kg cargo on their Albany – Perth flight once a week.
CHIRPINGS FROM THE CHAIR
When we formed our organisation back in 2003 I had no idea that one day I would find myself standing in front of a cinema audience announcing the world premiere of a documentary about the Western Ground Parrot. I would like to take this opportunity and thank film-maker Jennene Riggs for her unwavering commitment to get this film made. There were many bumps along the way, but we never lost faith that Secrets at Sunrise would be completed and provide the tool needed to introduce this enigmatic parrot to the world. We now have a genuine opportunity to get the wider community both interested and also involved in saving critically endangered species.
With the generous support from the Rotary Club of Albany Port WA we have purchased a license for Kaleidoscope data analysis software to enable to the Department of Parks and Wildlife to speed up the scanning of the automated recording unit audio files.
We have written to the new Minister for the Environment as well as federal Minister Josh Frydenberg to seek his support for conservation measures benefiting the Western Ground Parrot including the continued employment of key staff involved in the recovery project whose contracts are about to run out. I am very disappointed to report that no funds have been identified to date to keep highly-skilled members of the South West Fauna Recovery Project employed. We would like to thank both Rick Wilson MP and Peter Rundle MLA for their letters of support, and Colin De Grussa MLC for his commitment to speak in parliament about the plight of the Western Ground Parrot.
With key recovery measures still unfunded we endeavour to support Perth Zoo's captive breeding project and have pledged $10,000 towards the $85,000 needed to bring a small number of birds from the wild to the Zoo. Perth Zoo itself is seeking funding to cover the additional costs for an extension of their aviary facilities. We rely on your support to make this happen.
If you are not in a position to make a donation yourself, please spread the word about the need to adequately fund recovery measures. Contact Minister Dawson (Minister for the Environment, Western Australia) and Minister Frydenberg (Federal Minister for the Environment) and let them know that lack of funding has become the latest threat in trying to prevent the extinction of WA's rarest bird.
Time to pay your annual membership fees
On 1 July the membership fee for the new financial year is due. You can pay the $10 fee by direct deposit into our account held with Westpac:
Account name: Friends of the Western Ground Parrot
A/C: 29 8423
Please notify us of your payment by e-mail as banks do not always provide a reference.
If you prefer to send us a cheque, please make it payable to Friends of the Western Ground Parrot and send it to our mailing address.
Thank you for your continued support!
Chairperson: Anne Bondin
Mailing address: PO Box 5613, Albany, WA 6332